Tony’s lemur legacy

Our lemurs can stay toasty during the colder months thanks to a new heated shelter, which has been funded in memory of a lemur-loving visitor. 

The wooden and metal hut has been built in the centre of the one-acre walkthrough Lemur Wood by DZC’s in-house Development Team following a generous donation by the family of Tony Widdowson, who regularly visited the zoo and always made sure a stop-off in Lemur Wood was on the agenda. 

Tony sadly passed away from pancreatic cancer last November and his family felt it fitting to raise money for our lemurs in his name, especially as lockdown prevented them from having the memorial ceremony he deserved. 

Tony’s daughter, Kristen Chand, said: “My earliest memories of day trips with my dad involved animals and our favourite by far was Dudley Zoo.

“We moved to the north west but did not forget Dudley Zoo and still came down when we could. Dad was very fond of Inca the bear.

“I moved back to the West Midlands first and had my boys and it was no surprise that they were regularly taken to Dudley Zoo by their grandparents and as soon as my parents moved to Bilston, Dudley Zoo annual membership was a must have.

“My dad would go to the zoo at least weekly and report on the habits of the animals.

“He had a real preference for enclosures you could walk through and get really close to the animals. He liked the bat cave, but fell in love with Lemur Wood. 

“As my dad became more poorly, they would rent him a mobility scooter to get around the zoo and for as long as he was able, he visited the lemurs and this brought him such joy.

“When we heard we had raised enough to fund a heated area for the lemurs we were thrilled. Dad would have been so proud.

“Lemurs reflected my dad’s attitudes and values; family first, kind and caring but also curious and a bit mischievous!”

We currently have more than 20 lemurs free-roaming in the wood, including the critically endangered black-and-white ruffed lemur, endangered ring-tailed lemur and collared brown lemur. 

Zoo Director Derek Grove, said: “On behalf of all at DZC we send our condolences to Tony’s family.

“We are immensely lucky to have such loyal members who take an interest in our animals and our work and we are very grateful for this generous donation in Tony’s memory which has enabled us to build the new outdoor shelter for our wonderful lemur species, in a place he so loved.”